Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gender Bender

This evening, my son announced that he was having difficulty pooping. You must be constipated, I said. Yes, I'm very complicated, he replied.

How true.

When I first found out that he was a he (after he was born), I admit I worried a little that I would not be able to connect. I am a fairly girlie girl. Would I be able to get into fire trucks, race cars, football, etc? A friend at the time said to me, maybe this boy will be the type you can share all your feminine interests with (books, movies, etc.)

Little did I know how right she would turn out to be. My son has never really gotten into typical boy stuff. His interests have always been more gender neutral and quirky (vacuums, haircuts, musical instruments are a few examples). But lately, he seems to be developing a more intense interest in "girl stuff." (princesses, dresses, the color pink, etc.) He has always shown an intense appreciation for beauty and it seems that now he wants to be more of a participant than an observer.

I admit that this makes me a bit uncomfortable at times. When we left the shoe store last week , he expressed some disappointment that he did not get pink shoes like his sister. I explained that it was too late - we had already purchased the shoes, which he seemed to like at the time. But truthfully, I would not have had the guts to be buy him the pink shoes from the girls section. It's just too much for me - and ultimately, I think, somewhat irresponsible. For what it's worth, he lives in a extremely color-coded gender world right now. I can try to neutralize it, but it's really hard go cross over completely. I think I will switch to Zappos for the time being.

I do allow him to dress up in girls clothes in the context of play and even to wear my pink scarf and hat to school. I am trying to give him room to experiment and explore while at the same time make more of an effort to show him that it's also fun and exciting and special to be a boy - even if sports and superheroes aren't his thing right now.

The experience is also challenging me to revisit some of my behavior towards my daughter as well. It is easier than I thought it would be to have a little too much fun dressing her up in cute outfits and gushing over how adorable she looks in them. It takes a certain discipline for me to tone that down - and I think it's really important for everyone (especially her!) that I do.

I find it difficult to be in the present with this - to not let my anxieties about the future get in the way. I am anxious, for example, that he will be teased at school. But I try to remind myself that no one is teasing him now. And even if they do, he will have the strength to get through it and the wisdom to grow from it.

I hope that I will learn how to be as supportive and helpful to him as I can as he continues on the journey.


Maya said...

What an awesome way to raise a son. I love hearing your story, and those of friends who don't take color-coded social diction. Kids don't do this, why do we? I think we lose more than we gain by color-coding their lives.

mamamia said...

thanks maya! I really appreciate it.